Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Wine On Great Grape Day

Hey Gang, join me and my wine friends over at Wine Sediments today as it is Great Grape Day!

Arroyo and Ross! Two great Cincinnati Reds baseball players! Wonder if they like wine????

Monday, July 30, 2007

No Wine At The Ballpark

What a treat Mike and I received from a friend. Tickets to the Reds vs Cubs ballgame at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. And the best part, these seats were in the 2nd row above the Reds dugout!!! Talk about photo ops, whew! I know, I know, the Reds are like in last place but sitting just about on the field with the players is too cool! Hot dogs, peanuts, ice cold beer here, after the game a trip to the gift shop - "priceless"! The only teeny tiny thing was, no wine. Even though I was sitting in the 90 degree, quite warm sunshine, a freezing cold glass of Rose would have "fit the bill". But...the good thing was I knew I had a nice chilled bottle of wine waiting for me in my frig for my return home.

On returning home from the ballgame, after sitting in the hot sun all afternoon, a nice cool shower was in order, followed by popping the cork on a 2006 Cave De Montagnac Picpoul De Pinet from the Languedoc Region in the South of France where the vineyards meet the Mediterranean. This wine, light gold in color with a hint of green, had freshness in the mouth that was so enjoyable on a hot summer night. The wine is made from the Picpoul grape that is very hard to grow and needs a long growing season to ripen properly. The production of this wine is very small, only 30 producers make this delicious wine. On the nose was the refreshing scent of limes and apples, of which my mouth said "bring it on!" My palate was then treated to the wonderful crisp flavors of those green apples and lime. The Picpoul De Pinet is a lovely medium bodied acidic wine that would pair well with seafood or chicken, unfortunately not a hot dog at the ballpark!


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Wine & Lemon Chicken

While visiting Amanda at Figs, Olives & Wine the other day, she had fixed a marvelous looking cassoulet because it was a cool, rainy day in New York. Well, here the past few days we have had some rain, but no cool weather. Still I was in the mood for some type of comfort food for a warm, rainy day. Mike had shown me a Lemon Chicken Pasta recipe a few weeks ago and I thought, wow, that will fit the menu for my rainy day comfort food. After going over the ingredients, I now had to choose a wine that we had in the rack that would pair with the lemon, capers, chicken and the rest of goodies that I would toss into this pasta dish.

I picked out "The Stump Jump" Vintage 2006 Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne Wine from the d'Arenberg Winery in McLaren Vale in South Australia. What a fun refreshing, crisp blended wine that paired well with the chicken dish. The blend of 63% Riesling, 16% Sauvignon Blanc, 13% Roussane and 8% Marsanne was floral on the opening and the floral notes moved over lightly to the palate. The fruitiness of the Riesling grape was tamed by the rest of the blend which added a nice acidity and balance to this medium bodied wine. This wine had a 13% alcohol volume. The Stump Jump wine was a good value for under $12.00, as it makes a good sipping wine for rainy summer nights and has enough flavors to match a comfort food dinner of lemon chicken and pasta.

If anyone would like the recipe for the Lemon Chicken Pasta, drop me a note in the comments sections and I will do a post this week for it!

It was Farmers Market Day and I picked up lots of fresh goodies this morning and will share the bounty with you this week!


Friday, July 27, 2007

Wine While Waiting

In our busy world, it seems we spend a portion of our lives waiting. You know, waiting on buses, trains or cabs to head to work, waiting in line at the grocery store or waiting at your favorite place, the dentist or doctor. Those really are not necessarily the most fun places to be waiting. I find one of the most enjoyable places to be waiting is at home! Waiting for that luscious stew to be finished that has been cooking all afternoon on the stove or that lovely cake or pie that is in the oven making the house smell great and your mouth watering is a pleasurable time period for me.

But, I think one of the most exciting time periods at home is waiting on a friend or loved one who is coming for dinner and an overnight. During this waiting period I am usually preparing an appetizer, salad, slicing and dicing something for dinner or setting the table. My favorite tunes are playing and I find myself starting to relax but also excited, as I am waiting for my friend to arrive. During these periods of time at home, I find it one of the best times to enjoy my first glass of wine for the day! I might pop open the wine, or wines, that I will be serving with appetizers, dinner, and dessert or just for sipping when my friend arrives. Even though I have preplanned the choices of wine for the evening, I always want to be sure that the wines I am serving are the perfect choice. Or, hey, what a better time to finish off that wee bit of wine that has been left over from the night before, as it seems I am always clearing more space in the frig for another bottle of white wine. This interval of time is also excellent for trying a new wine that I might think would pair well with, let’s say, something spicy I am conjuring up.

We are always talking about pairing wine with foods, how about wine with time?

Waiting on your friends is a marvelous thing and what is a better way to spend those few eager moments before their arrival? Sipping a glass of wine!

Luckily tomorrow is Saturday and Farmers Market Day! Head out and grab some of those fresh veggies. And hey, stop at your local wine merchant and pick up a bottle to go with those fresh veggies!


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Wine From Chile & A Guest

I have been trying to venture away from the Sauvignon Blancs that are my very favorite wines to give my pallet some new education, but instead of veering away from them totally, I decided to try other country's that produce them. I figured I loved them so much that I should just travel the globe and collect. So in my search I came across this clean looking bottle and label at the wine shop the other day and it wound up in my cart. I am glad it did!

I am speaking of the 2006 Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc Reserva Wine from the Casablanca Valley of Chile. Veramonte translated means "Edge Of The Mountain" and is located near Chile's rugged Pacific Coast tucked in a remote corner of the Casablanca Valley. The wild Patagonia lies to the south and the Andes Mountains rise behind them in the east. Wow, what a setting! One of the things that impressed me about this winery, besides the wine, is that 1,000 acres of their grape vines are nestled among 10,000 acres of wild land that Veramonte has preserved as a natural greenbelt! Thank you for being kind to Mother Earth! On unscrewing the cap and pouring this good clear, straw colored wine, citrus and floral notes filled the air. But wow, on the palate was a nice zesty, medium body wine with loads of melon and herb flavors that lingered on a nice finish. This lively wine had 13.5% alcohol volume and a nice balance of acidity. We had fresh goodies still left from the farmers market, like corn on the cob and crisp lettuces, that paired very well with the Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc. This is definitely a keeper on my list. And best of all, under $12.00!

While preparing the lettuce for our dinner, I noticed that I had brought home a guest from the Farmers Market. As soon as the water started hitting the lettuce to be cleaned, he appeared and was "outta there"! I moved him to the outdoors immediately!


Monday, July 23, 2007

Wine & Harvest Salsa

Wine, weather and farmers market harvest! What more could you ask for to make a perfect summer weekend! Well, a nice long bike ride in late afternoon to take in the smells and sights of summer put a nice touch on the weekend also!

Our Farmers Market this weekend was packed with fresh corn on the cob, heirloom tomatoes, green tomatoes, a variety of hot peppers, zucchini, many varieties of lettuce, kale, green beans, carrots, fresh flowers - I could just go on and on. What you see in the photo is just the "tip of the iceberg" as to what I hauled home. But one of my best finds this week was tomatillos! Those cute little green tomato looking gems with the lovely little sticky jackets around them. When I got a look at those I thought, SALSA! So we had salsa this weekend with every dish I conjured up. One of the best was charcoal grilled tuna, as we used the salsa on the tuna. The next night it was grouper on the grill with a side of salsa. So fresh and crunchy from the hot peppers, green onions and those lovely tomatillos added more crunch and a hint of lime flavor. Here is a simple salsa I whipped up from the market goodies.

Salsa by Deb
3 heirloom tomatoes, you can use any kind that are fresh
4 tomatillos
1 hot wax pepper and 1 jalapeno pepper
1 good bunch of green onions
1 good splash of extra virgin olive oil
1 good splash of red wine vinegar to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Chop up your veggies and add the oil and vinegar and you have yourself a yummy quick fresh salsa. Also let it set for about an hour before you use it as the flavors need to combine.

Before and with dinner I had chilled a bottle of 2005 Covey Run Dry Riesling, as I knew the flavors of this would pair well with our fish and salsa. Covey Run Dry Riesling is located in Columbia Valley, Washington State. Riesling is Washington States most versatile wine and this wine is proof of just that. I choose a Dry Riesling, as I find them not quite as sweet as a regular Riesling. The Riesling grape is high in acidity so they make the wine with a certain amount of residual sugar to balance the tartness. Covey Run is made with 100% Riesling grapes and the volume of alcohol is 12.5%. After popping the cork, I was breathing in the aromas of peach and honeysuckle. On the palate was loads of honey and peach and this Riesling had just enough sweetness to round off the racey acidity and citrus peel flavors I was tasting also. It had a nice full and long finish.

A nice start to the finish of a lovely summer weekend!


Friday, July 20, 2007

Wine By Tamas Estates & Pasta

Back quite a few years ago, I was lucky enough to meet Ivan Tamas, now of Tamas Estates. I attended a wine tasting at a festival and Ivan was present. In conversing with him, I found a great man passionate about his wines. At that time I was enjoying his 1991 Trebbiano wine that he does not produce anymore. But I picked up one of his estate wines that I totally enjoyed last evening.

A 2004 Tamas Estates Pinot Grigio entertained my palate last evening for my summer sipper. Tamas Estates is located in the Livermore Valley area of California. Pinot Grigio is a classic Italian grape variety that thrives in Monterey County. Tamas Estates produces this estate grown California wine made from the traditional Pinot grapes that California's Mediterranean climate and Tamas Estates gravelly soils provide ideal conditions. Founded by Ivan Tamas Fuezy and Steve Mirassou in 1984, Tamas Estates is now part of the Wente Family Estate portfolio. The nose of this Pinot Grigio had a very full grapefruit, citrus aroma which transferred over to the palate. On the palate I found a full bodied, crisp, dry, citrus flavor with a hint of apple. Finishing up was the same flavors but also with a hint of mineral flavors which brought this wine down to Earth. A very "full in the mouth" wine, but very refreshing. This wine had a 13.5% alcohol volume which attributed to the fullness of this lovely wine. Even in the glass this wine looked full with it's deep golden color. A good deal for under $12.00.

Friday has rolled around again and I am planning for another bountiful Saturday morning at the Farmers Market. Usually on Friday, Lucy of Boulder Belt Eco Farm emails to her customers her veggies, etc. that she and Eugene are bringing to the market on Saturday. This is really cool as you can start planning your weekend menus in advance. The other night I needed to clear the frig of the "left over" veggies that did not make it into any dish the previous few night. So pasta was the dish of the evening with, kale, green beans, peas, tossed with a bit of basil pesto and topped with crumbled feta cheese. Also had some cherry tomatoes left over and we just ate them along with the pasta. Yummy!!! So gang, get out there and support the local farmers this weekend and enjoy their bounty that they bring to town just for you!


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Chateau de Fongrave Wine

Nowadays there are sooo many wines to choose from. What is my favorite? You know, that would be a hard question to answer. I guess I would have to ask back, red or white, what grape, what area of the world! I guess I have progressed a bit in my wine world since I began seriously drinking this wonderful liquid back in the early 1990's. So now instead of just a "favorite wine", I seem to have favorite country's. Which leads me to today's selection.

I was thrilled again to discover an inexpensive French white wine that was not going to use up my weekly wine budget on a couple of bottles. This is one of the "finds" that I happen to come upon in my "Sam's Wine" search while in Chicago. I located a 2005 Chateau de Fongrave Grand Vin de Bordeaux from Gironde, France. This wine is from the area of Entre-Deux-Mers which is a large area of the Bordeaux wine region. Entre-Deux-Mers translated means "between two seas" because it is located between the Dordogne & Garonne rivers. This lovely white wine has 12.5% alcohol volume and is comprised of 60% Sauvignon and 40% Semillon grapes. Pop the cork and you will smell the aromas of citrus, such as grapefruit, and a hint of fresh peaches as they escape the bottle. The wine is a beautiful light straw yellow color as you pour it into your glass. As that wonderful liquid flows into your mouth you will get that fresh, crisp, dry, medium body, fruit flavor onto your palate. Not a real long finish, but one that makes your mouth tingle and ask for more. At a price of $9.99 a bottle, this one is on my list for summer sippers!

These smiling daisy's come to you from my garden!!


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Bears Lair Wine

I think I may have gotten this bottle of Bears Lair California Viognier at Trader Joe's. I guess I must be having a senior moment here as I usually remember, or try to take note, of where I purchase a wine and how much it cost. The cost is easy. I know it is under $10.00. If I purchase a wine over $12.00, I know I take note of it. The 2005 Bears Lair Wine is a Viognier from, the bottle says Napa, California, but in researching who bottled it they say the grapes are not necessarily from Napa. The only statement on the bottle was "Cellared & Bottled by Bears Lair Winery, Napa, California". I was disappointed with the information on this bottle as there was "zilch". I did find out that Bronco Wine Company in Ceres, California owns this brand plus 29 others. Charles Shaw being one of them. That is why I think I found this wine at Trader Joe's. Here is what I found out about Bronco Wine Company.

Bronco is one of the largest growers and suppliers of wine grapes in the world. All their vineyards are in the central valley. Despite the Napa or Sonoma indications on the label generally the wines are California appellation - meaning the grapes can come from anywhere in the state. Bronco can use the words Napa & Sonoma on their labels since they have opened wineries and bottling plants within the boundaries of both regions to process these wines. While not true Napa or Sonoma wines they are still producing good quality wines at very reasonable prices.

So much for that! The 2005 Bears Lair California Viognier, after popping the cork, had a nice floral aroma with a hint of fruit whiffing around, like mango. But it took me a few sips before this floral taste arrived on my palate. Most Viogniers really shout out the floral, but this one was a little subtle till I sipped it a few times. Then I could pull the floral and mango flavors out. A full bodied wine with the alcohol content being 12.5%. On the finish was a nice creamy feeling, but not a long lasting one.

Well it is 6 pm and time to start the end of my day with another refreshing white wine!


Monday, July 16, 2007

Dashwood Wine & Boulder Belt Eco Farm

As I was cleaning my purchase of kale from the Farmers Market on Saturday, I decided to open a chilled bottle of 2005 Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc to keep me company. Washing all of the lettuces, kale, green beans and other various items I picked up takes quite a few minutes, but minutes that I totally enjoy. I love cooking and having the freshest, healthiest, veggies that I can possibly get...it makes all the difference. Just look at this kale from Boulder Belt Eco Farms, so handsome! Lucy and Eugene put their heart and souls into this farm and it is very evident by the produce they bring to market for all of us. Actually, I tip my hat to all of the farmers who make the Oxford Farmers Market such a success and a fun place to be!

Now let's talk about the wine I treated myself to while doing my cleansing of the veggies! As I mentioned, I pulled out a bottle of 2005 Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc that was produced from the fruit grown in the Awatere and Wairau Valley's in Marborough, New Zealand. After unscrewing the cap, whiffs of citrus, mostly lime but a bit of grapefruit too, filled the air. Jumping around on my tongue were the flavors, not only of this citrus, but also a hint of passion fruit and apples also. I know, what a combination. This is a medium bodied wine with a bit of personality to it. Nice bright, dry, crisp, smack your lips, was what was on the finish. And, typical of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, that down to Earth green grass flavor that I adore. This wine was a great bargain at $11.99. Sonadora, look this one up for your summer sips. You will enjoy.

Now, you ask, what did you whip up with all of the good veggies from the farmers market? That, my friends, is for another post!


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Great Wine & Friends!

The wine was flowing last evening at our good friend Lee's home. Lee has been a wonderful wine buddy of mine for many years and I always enjoy tipping a glass with her. Last night was no exception. We had the good ol' "birthday" group together, Pam, Sandy, Tom, Judy, Lee and me and Mike, for wine, BBQ, and much bubbly conversation!

Our fantastic evening started with a marvelous 2005 Domaine Merlin Cherrier Sancerre. Sancerre is a town and commune of the Cher Department in central France. It is a lovely, medieval, hilltop town overlooking the Loire River. Sancerre is located in the eastern part of the Loire Valley, which is southeast of Orleans. It is regarded as the spiritual home of Sauvignon Blanc making wines of great purity and elegance. The Merlin Cherrier Sancerre was a medium body, crisp, lively white wine with hints of citrus, like grapefruit, that played on your tongue like "kids in sunshine". A nice long satisfying finish followed with a touch of mineral still on my palate. The Sancerre had enough acidity to pair ideally with the "Salmon Spread" that Lee made, which was made up of fresh salmon, sour cream, basil, salt and pepper. Yum!

The rest of the evening Lee served a variety of wines that were ideally suited to go with the rest of the dips, crackers, bread, corn on the cob, veggie packets, and the ever popular BBQ ribs that our Grill Master Mike prepares. Enjoying the festivities along with us were Lee's cats, Sugar and Cinnamon. Hard to believe that these girls are 16 years old! Look and act like youngsters to me! As you can see, too cute!

The enjoyable evening ended, very late, with lots of hugs, kisses and well wishes to all until our next gathering!

Cheers My Friends!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Wine & Pasta Weekend

Happy Friday the 13th and welcome to the weekend! I do believe it's another summer weekend to enjoy refreshing wines. I have another Spanish, inexpensive wine to treat your palate and I do believe this is the last one I have in the wine rack for now. Just like I get on the Sauvignon Blanc kicks, I have been on a Spanish wine kick and need to branch out again.

My last bottle is a 2005 Espelt - Vailet. It is from the Catalunya Region and the Appellation of Emporda-Costa Brava, Spain. It has an alcohol volume of 13% and is comprised of 60% Garnacha Blanc and 40% Macabeo grapes. I was drawn to this bottle by the label and the price of $8.99. A surprise of a colorful orange plastic cork appeared when I took off the foil of the bottle. The wine had a light citrus nose to it, nothing powerful. On my palate was a bright, clean, taste of citrus fruit, maybe a hint of apple, and a slight touch of stone. A very light bodied wine that did not have too much of a finish to it. It was a good wine for a summer week night and would do well for a starter wine at a picnic.

It is Friday and tomorrow morning is the Farmers Market. As we are getting more into the summer season the farmers are bringing in lots of veggies that are ready for the dinner plate.

Pasta seems like a good thing for the weekend with a chunky sauce made up of whatever the selection may be tomorrow. That is part of the fun of cooking on the weekend, as the market will dictate what winds up in the ol' pot on the stove or sizzling on the grill!


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Wine From WBW#35 Thursday

In case you missed my post for WBW#35 on Wine Sediments, I thought I would post it here for you today. Nice bottle of inexpensive Spanish Wine.

I have never seen the hype that Spanish wines are bringing us this year. Lots of blogging on these wines lately. But for good reason, it is Summer and we need those refreshing light to medium bodied wines to get us through the “scorcher” days.
Digging around in the Spanish section of the wine shop, I came upon this bottle of wine that was the grape I wanted to taste and was the right price, $9.99. I usually look for the type of grape I want to try and then I look at the labels. OK, not really, I check out the labels first, as I am a wine label “enthusiast” and totally enjoy the artistic pleasures of a wine label.
A definite wine for summer is the 2006 Salneval Albarino from the region Galicia, appellation Rias Baixas, Spain. Founded in 1988 (the same year the D.O. Rias Baixas was officially granted its charter), the winery is a cooperative of 362 grower/owners. This winery is considered among the highest quality producers in the entire region. The winery is located in the valley known as O Salnes, in the heart of the D.O. Rias Baixas. It is two kilometers away from Cambados, in the province of “Galicia”. Galicia is one of the oldest areas in Spain, settled originally by the Celts!
Enough history, on with the wine! Salneval Albarino is made from 100% Albarino grapes, has an alcohol volume of 12.5% and a cork closure. When popping the cork, whiffs of lemon, lime with a touch of honeysuckle fill the air. On the palate you will notice a light, dry, crisp taste of citrus fruits along with hint of minerals. Not a long finish but a soft, refreshing one.
A nice, inexpensive, let’s hit the back deck type of wine. A great wine to start the end of your day!

Here is a little guy that is now a permanent morning resident on my deck! Too cute!!!


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Spanish Wine For WBW#35

OK, you are right, the wine label caught my eye at the store. I was excited it was a Spanish wine because today is WBW #35 and the Spaniards are in the spotlight! Our host is Michelle over at My Wine Education and we thank her for bringing us all together once again to enjoy everyone’s findings on this “hot” wine. I have never seen the hype that Spanish wines are bringing us this year. Lots of blogging on these wines lately. But for good reason, it is Summer and we need those refreshing light to medium bodied wines to get us through the “scorcher” days.
As I mentioned above, the label on this lovely wine caught my eye and I do believe it fits the subject. Not only is the label jazzy but the wine is also. I am speaking of the 2006 Bodegas Naia Wine from the region Castilla Y Leon, sub region Rueda in Spain. This wine is made from 100% Verdejo grapes, has an alcohol volume of 13% and a cork closure.
The landscape of the D.O. Rueda is dotted with old castles and herds of grazing sheep. All the vineyards are located in the town of La Seca, which is considered by the locals to be the “grand cru” village of Rueda. Verdejo has been the traditional varietal here of the left bank of the Duero River since the Middle Ages!
On the nose Naia has lots of lemon, citrusy aromas and these flavors followed through onto the palate. After this wine was swirled around in my mouth I also tasted a bit of minerals present. I like that connection to the Earth! The Naia is a super wine for the back deck and these superb summer nights!

Sorry Michelle, I cheated and went over the $10.00 limit. My wine was $11.99, but well worth the extra dollars!
Please stop over to Wine Sediments today, as I have a post over there also. Lots of good wines to check out today. Have fun!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Gustave Lorentz Wine & A Summer Pasta Salad

Summer is now in full swing, as most of us are hitting those high 80 and 90 degree days. No better time than now to pull out a refreshing wine from the Alsace area of France. I was lucky enough years ago to make a trip through that lovely countryside tasting my way from vineyard to vineyard. A trip that I would never hesitate to repeat. I fell in love with their wines before I made the trip, but my journey enhanced that love. You cannot miss a bottle of wine from Alsace as they are bottled in those beautiful slim tall bottles, that sometimes are hard to fit in the frig. As like all the other French wines that I have enjoyed, their pricing has went up the ladder also. But in digging around Sam's Wines on my Chicago trip, I came upon one that still had a low price tag of $11.99.

Into my cart went a bottle of Gustave Lorentz 2006 Pinot Blanc Reserve from Bergheim, France. I figured last night was a perfect evening to open this chilled wine, as it was shady, but quite toasty on the deck. On unscrewing the cap, a pleasing bouquet of fresh fruit, not so much citrusy, but just refreshing fruit escaped. Following up on the palate was that same fresh fruit but it was so clean and soft! No heavy acid in this one and the alcohol volume was 12%. At this price, I would recommend this little beauty for sipping on these hot summer nights!

I made an easy summer pasta salad the other night that I want to share with you. It was so easy and would pair up with just about anything you might put on the grill. Also would be great for a nice light lunch. Here ya go!

1 cup spiral pasta
1 cup of lima beans, I used frozen
1 15.5 ounce can artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed and chopped
1 6 ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained, rinsed and diced
4 oil packed sun dried tomatoes diced
About 2 tablespoons prepared pesto
Shredded mozzarella cheese for sprinkling on top

Cook pasta according to directions. The last few minutes of cooking, toss in the lima beans if they are frozen. If not frozen, add to artichoke hearts and red peppers putting all these in a big bowl. Stir the dried tomatoes and pesto together in separate bowl then add to the peppers mixture. Season with salt and pepper, add the drained pasta and lima beans, toss well. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top and serve. I served at room temperature but did have leftovers that tasted great the next day. I did add a little more pesto the next day to give it a little extra flavor. And hey, if you like it with more tomatoes or pesto, have at it. It seems one of those salads you cannot mess up.

And since you are seeing, limes, etc. next to my wine, I was making a butter, cilantro and lime juice mixture to pour over veggies that I was putting into packets for the grill. These foil packets consisted of zucchini, yellow squash, green onions, red pepper, a few broccoli florets, a few hot pepper flakes, salt, pepper and my butter sauce. Toss on the grill for about 15-20 minutes and "Oh, so good"!


Sunday, July 8, 2007

Wine, Fly Fishing & BBQ

Wine, fly fishing lessons and BBQ! Sounds like a fun packed Saturday afternoon to me, and it was! My brother Mark is a BIG BASS fisherman! So I ask him, since he is Mr. Fishing Expert, to teach me how to Fly Fish. Well, he never got into that area of fishing, yet. But his best buddy, Bill, is a major Fly Fisherman. Perfect! We will all get together and Bill can be teacher for the afternoon. And that is exactly what we did yesterday. All of us got together at Bill and Tina's house for lessons. And, since the temps are reaching 90's now, we would need lots of beverages and an outdoor BBQ. The guys started with beer and Tina and me had, you guessed it, WINE!
Since Tina is just getting into wines, I took an assortment with me to start her out. First we had a Ste. Michelle Riesling. It was nicely chilled and was perfect on yesterday's hot afternoon with it's loads of fruit on the palate. Then I introduced her to Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, since it is one of my favorites at the moment. Tons of concentrated citrus fruit, that wonderful grassy flavor, and so zippy on the palate. I then opened another Sauvignon Blanc which was from Fetzer's. Following the Oyster Bay, it seemed a bit weak. But, after a few sips, we pulled out the fruity flavors and nice acidity the wine offers. The last Sauvignon Blanc I wanted to introduce her to was the Chateau Bonnet White Bordeaux. We had to clear the palate to get the full flavors of this wine. Pleasing citrus, grapefruit, on the palate again with a nice crisp finish. By this time, I think Tina was over tasting wines. She picked the Fetzer Sauvignon Blanc as her favorite. For her the Oyster Bay was a bit too powerful for her palate and I think the Bonnet was too acidic at this point. I enjoyed all of the wines and we had fun with our little tasting.

Tina had a perfect BBQ prepared for us. We grilled out pork chops that had a wonderful glaze on them and, also on the grill, were these wonderful veggie packs. She loaded those up with all kinds of fresh veggies, sprinkled some dried basil, salt, pepper and pads of butter, all wrapped up in foil and tossed on the grill to cook. I tossed together a fresh lettuce salad with the greens that I purchased at the Farmers Market that morning. We also had a lovely rosemary bread that I picked up at the Farmers Market with an accompanying olive oil dip.
All of the wines I brought paired well with our great dinner.

Thanks again gang! Mike and I totally enjoyed our day of wine, fly fishing lessons and BBQ!


Friday, July 6, 2007

Gazela Wine & Garlic Beans, Etc.

I enjoyed the Casal Garcia wine yesterday so much that I just had to try another wine from Portugal! Farley at Wine Outlook even commented on how she enjoys Casal Garcia. A good buy for the money. When I was at the wine shop yesterday, I tried to get another bottle but they were out of stock. I think that tells me that lots of folks are enjoying these nice light wines for summer. I am!

So last night I unscrewed the cap off this icy chilled bottle of Gazela Vinho Verde that is produced by Sogrape, Quinta da Azevedo, Portugal. 9% alcohol, nice acidity, fresh and fruity on the palate with flavors of lemon and other citrus. Gazala is made from the Loureira and Azal Branco grapes, which makes this another wine which is pleasingly "fizzy" on the tongue. Totally enjoying the effervescence of these inexpensive, $5.99, wines! (Holler, I think this would be $4.40387 in your currency) Check it out! This wine even looks refreshing with it's almost clear color. Yes, it is definitely refreshing and perfect for an early summer evening on the deck!

Again, like the other night, by the time dinner rolled around, this bottle was history! So on to our next bottle of wine which I will tell you about another time. But, we did have a nice dish to go with our BBQ chicken. A simple dish that is a great "last minute" fix. I had picked up some fresh garlic, fresh as it just came out of the ground, at the farmers market last weekend and was itching to use it. So here it is! It has no name, but goes like this.

Fresh green beans that are blanched in boiling water for about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking.
Chopped fresh garlic. I use alot as we love garlic. You can adjust to your taste.
Chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil. I use about 3-4.
Option : parboiled small red potatoes.

Heat skillet to medium and add a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Saute garlic and tomatoes for a couple of minutes. Add green beans and heat through. That is it! Oh you may want to add salt and pepper at this time or wait till plated. If you use the potatoes, put them in right after the beans to heat up also. SO SIMPLE with loads of flavor.

Tomorrow is Farmers Market Day and then I go for my first lesson in "Fly Fishing"! Also holding a wine tasting on Saturday evening for some new friends of mine who are just getting into wines. This should be an adventurous day for sure! Enjoy your weekend!


Thursday, July 5, 2007

Casal Garcia Wine On The Deck

What a day for a lovely wine from Portugal. But hey, the bottle is empty! Yep, uncorked this friendly wine (check out the shape of the cork!) and it went down so well that I did not get to photograph it until it was all gone! I am speaking of Casal Garcia Vinho Verde produced by Quinto da Aveleda. The variety of grapes used in the wine are Trajadura, Loureiro, Arinto and Azal. Together these grapes produced a delicate, fresh white wine with enjoyable fruit flavors. With only 10.5% alcohol, but nice acidity, this wine actually sparkled in my mouth! I totally enjoyed that effervescence "ting" that played around the palate while sipping. It was a great, light, refreshing wine to start the afternoon BBQ. But by the time the BBQ was ready, no wine was left in this bottle! At $5.99, you cannot beat this great little wine for value. It needs to be served well chilled which makes it a great summer wine for picnics and relaxing on your patio in the late afternoon!


Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy 4th Of July!

Happy 4th Of July To Everyone!


Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Pinot Gris Wine & Spicy Corn Stew

Tomorrow is a big BBQ day for us. Therefore, here are a couple of suggestions that you can pair with whatever you are grilling outdoors tomorrow. Whether you are in Key West or Oxford, Ohio these two items seem to be a hit with us.

First I will start with the most important feature of your picnic, The Wine! On opening this lively, crisp summer wine the other night, I thought - WoW, this will be great on the 4th of July nicely iced down in the cooler. I am speaking of the 2006 Cheateau Ste. Michelle Pinot Gris from Washington State. I tell you, I think Ste. Michelle has a wine to go with anything and I have never steered myself wrong with any of their selections. Ste. Michelle Pinot Gris has loads of ripe melon, lime and kiwi fruit that blooms the minute you open the bottle. These nice fresh flavors follow thru to the palate with enough acid to make it nice, crisp and refreshing. This wine is comprised of 94% Pinot Gris and 6% Viognier grapes. The little bit of Viognier adds a nice floral note to the wine, but not a heavy one. A small portion of the juice is fermented in old French oak barrels which tends to lend a little softness to the wine. I paired this wine with a grilled white fish and the following Spicy Corn Stew. Yumptious!

I located this recipe in a 1998 issue of Food and Wine Magazine. They call it a stew, but to me it is a nice mix of veggies. Not like a stew that I would fix in the winter on a cold day. Anyhow, see for yourself.

Spicy Corn Stew

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion coarsely chopped
One 3 oz. piece of slab bacon
1/2 cup of white wine, preferably Riesling (I used the Pinot Gris)
2 garlic cloves chopped
1 large jalapeno minced
2 cups chicken stock or low sodium broth
6 ears of fresh corn, shucked and kernels cut from the cobs, reserve the cobs
1/2 cup diced peeled tomatoes
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Salt and pepper

In a large deep skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over moderate heat. Add the onion and bacon and cook stirring until the onion is soft but not brown. Add the wine and boil, stirring until reduced by half. Add the garlic and jalapeno, stir and cook for about a minute. Add the chicken stock and corn cobs and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Take out the cobs. Add the corn to the skillet and simmer, stirring frequently until tender, about 15 minutes. Remove the bacon. Swirl (my favorite word) the remaining 1 teaspoon of butter into the cooked corn. Add the tomato, cilantro, lime juice and season with salt and pepper. Stir till heated through and serve. You must do this with fresh corn because the cobs really add so much flavor and juice. Yum-yum! Great summer dish to go with your 4th of July BBQ!

Cheers and "Happy 4th Of July" Everyone!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Becassonne Wine & Rice, Succotash Salad

Hope everyone had a great weekend and drank some wine! We had a wonderful lunch with my brother, his new friend Julie, Megan, and Bill and Tina who are going to teach me how to fly fish this upcoming weekend. I am really psyched about this new sport for me. Even though I am learning how to fly fish in Ohio, I am really excited to get back home to Key West and fish in the flats. I am sure I will have lots of stories on this new item!

But we did have time to dive into our third selection of wines from Sam's haul. Our choice was the 2005 Domaine de la Becassonne. Another lovely Cotes-Du-Rhone white. Domaine de la Becassonne is located in the Chateauneuf du Pape Region of the Rhone area in Vaucluse, France and owned by Andre Brunel. His production of this wine included 50% Roussanne, 30% Clairette and 20% Grenache grapes. I found this wine to be a delightful well balanced, medium bodied wine with with flavors and aromas of peach with a hint of flowers present. Nice acidity which added to the lingering crisp finish. A nice summer wine for the price of $12.00. Again I will say that most of the French wine prices have gone out of my budget range, so it is pleasing to discover that there are a few nice, inexpensive, French white wines still out there to be found. It is quite a satisfying adventure to find them!

Now for Wendy at Wee Bit Of Cooking, here is the recipe for a wild rice salad we had the other night. This recipe comes from the June issue of Cooking Light Magazine. Lots of veggies!

Wild Rice and Summer Succotash Salad

Dressing: 1/3 cup red wine vinegar, 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, 1/4 cup Dijon mustard, 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves, 2 tablespoons chopped green onions, 1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper and 1 clove of garlic minced and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Mix all of this together in a small bowl and set aside.

1 cup wild rice
1 cup (about 1/4 lb.) of fresh green beans cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1 cup frozen baby lima beans
1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped red onion
1 cup diced plum tomato
Romain lettuce leaves that you will place the salad on top
3 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted

Cook the rice in 3 cups of boiling water about 45 minutes or until tender. Drain and place rice in a large bowl. Add about 1/4 cup of dressing, toss well and cool. Cook green beans and lima beans in boiling water for about 4 minutes or until tender. Rinse with cold water and drain well. Put in a bowl and add the beans, remaining dressing, bell pepper, celery, onion and tomato. Toss well and add to the rice mixture and toss again. Line your plates with lettuce leaves, put rice salad on top and sprinkle each with almonds! So easy to make and very satisfying. Leftovers the next day are not bad either! Enjoy!